Tag: Evolved

Media Monday: What if cryptids were real?

The books: Lorestalker series (1-5) by J.P. Barnett

The music: “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult

A few years back, as I was wandering the country, I found myself at a cryptozoology museum in New England (I won’t mention the name because when I criticized it on Twitter, the owner got a little pissy about it). Suffice it to say, the exhibits were built on some questionable “science.” And I wondered, how can anyone believe this stuff?

Well, the Lorestalker series takes this and runs with it. It follows Miriam Brooks, daughter or renowned cryptozoologist Skylar Brooks, as she and her friends investigate weird phenomena around the country, from a Bigfoot-like creature, to a giant kracken and skinwalkers.

Book 1, The Beast of Rose Valley, takes place in small-town Texas. Some creature is killing livestock and animals at a wildlife sanctuary, and the powers that be are trying to cover it up. What hooked me into this book, and the series as a whole, as that I figured out who was responsible about 1/3 of the way in – and then the author said, “Yep, here’s what you figured out but also here’s this twist.” It’s a great twist, something that’s built on in the rest of the series so I won’t spoil it, but something that makes you want to try to figure out each book as you’re reading it. Throw in likeable, believable characters, and this is a series you won’t want to put down.

Book 2, The Kraken of Cape Madre, switches the main character from a Texas guy to Miriam. This threw me at first, since she was basically just a side character in the first book with no POV, but it works for the series, and she becomes the main protagonist for most of the series. Miriam, her cousin, and her best friend are on vacation on the Texas Gulf coast, and a giant octopus appears. Again, the author takes everything you think you’ve figured out about the story, tells you you’re right, and then takes it further with a similar twist to what he did in the first book. The plot is good, but it’s the characters that have me giving this book 5 stars. Miriam is very real, from her on-the-spectrum-ish behavior instilled in her by her obsessive, narcissistic father, to her guilt-ridden PTSD earned in the last book. Even without the enjoyable sci-fi/fantasy/thriller/horror elements, I’d keep reading just to tag along on her adventures and watch her growth.

Book 3, The Witch of Gray’s Point, shifts gears a bit. Miriam is taking a study break at her father’s ranch in the Texas desert – only he’s there too, with his new team of assistants. Miriam and her dad have a complicated relationship, to put it mildly, but she’s convinced to stay at least the night. And that’s when the skinwalkers show up – Native American demon people. Based on their descriptions and their abilities, I thought there was no way this book could have the same twist as the others – but then bam, there it was, showing just how creative and ingenious the author is. Some great character development in this too, for characters I wasn’t expecting it from, and I was even more invested in the series to see how everyone continues to grow.

By book 4, The Haunt at Hogg Run, I was devouring this series. As in, as soon as I finished book 3 I immediately bought and read book 4. Unfortunately, book 4 was a shift away from the themes of the rest of the series. I’m not saying it wasn’t good – it definitely was – but it was almost straight-up slasher horror, compared to sci-fi/thriller/horror of the rest of the series. This book focuses mostly on Macy Donner, Miriam’s best friend. We know her pretty well at this point, but it was jarring for her to carry the book on her own, without her friends along. And the cryptid in this book, unlike the rest of them, is revealed pretty early, so there’s none of the related suspense that the rest of the series has had. Again, this is a good book, but it broke my stride in the series a bit.

Book 5, The Devil of Misty Lake, was a return to the rest of the series. Miriam and Macy have their first real cryptid investigation, this time in the forest of the Pacific Northwest (I would’ve loved to see a reference to the Pacific Northwest tree octopus). The author also returns to the same twist/reveal he’s used in the prior books, and it works as well here as it did in the rest of them. I also liked the introduction of the new characters – a monster-focused bounty hunter and a local guide – who I hope to see teaming up with Miriam and Macy in future books. Miriam again shows some great character growth in this book, especially at the end, that I expect to affect her in future books as well. Macy has growth too, the realistic kind that comes from her experience in book 4, that demonstrate the author’s deep understanding of human nature.

Overall, I highly recommend this series. It’s a mix of sci-fi, horror, and thriller, but the characters are so skillfully written that the plot almost takes a backseat and becomes a way for them to interact and grow. Even if you’re not generally into this kind of series, I recommend at least checking out the first book.

The song accompanying this week’s books is awesome in its own right, but there’s one lyric that specially applies: “History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.” And that’s the theme of these stories – whenever people start messing with nature, bad things happen. Again, and again, and again….

Media Monday: the political dynasty of Richard Robbins

Media MondayThe book: Panicles by Richard Robbins

The music: “Running up that Hill” by Placebo

Panicles is a novel that follows two families, the Waxes and the Murnanes, as they weave in and out of each other’s lives. The Waxes are blue collar and the Murnanes are old money, yet Matthew Wax and Emily Murnane form a lifelong friendship that carries them through death, war, and politics. So much politics.

The story reads like an episode of Law and Order, and I’m not sure if the author intended it that way to translate well to a screen because that’s what we get. The story is very dialogue driven; the characters are aware of their feelings and motivations and voice them and backstory to each other in every interaction, rather than presenting these in the narrative. The story is also chronologically fast-paced, in that we get a brief scene of the important events in their lives, covering 30+ years of the characters’ fortunes and misfortunes.

I think the author could easily have split this book into three or more separate books, due to the wide cast of characters and the richness of their lives that we only get brief glimpses of. That said, there’s a second book coming down the pipeline and hopefully it’ll give us the chance to savor the characters we’ve gotten to know throughout book 1.

I picked this accompanying song for two reasons. First, the Meg Myers version of this song is all over the radio right now and the Placebo version is better so I want people to know that. Second, and more relevantly, there are a lot of missed opportunities for the characters, some of their own making and some handed over by fate. Regardless, the characters try to make the best of it.

Also, Placebo has been one of my favorite bands for 25 years now. I feel old.

Coming soon – a new series with its own mascot!

Clyde happensFor the past year or so, most of my writing effort has been divided between short stories and The Heartsbane Saga, the new series I’m working on. I’ve been working on this series for years, actually, but it’s really gained its momentum over the last 12-15 months.

This series will be 7 novellas (so far, about 40-50k words each although I expect they’ll get longer as the series progresses) and 7 stand-alone-ish short stories, each of which is based on a different fairy tale.

Originally the series was just going to be one book, but then it morphed into 7. I had them all roughly plotted out. My writing group, Chicken Scratch QC, approved of the arc. I was all set.

I wrote book 1. So far, so good. I started on book 2. And that’s when things started to go off the rails (although in a good way, because the direction I’m going in has a lot more depth and excitement and twists to it). Specifically, Clyde happened.

Clyde is a character who wasn’t supposed to be a character, who’s kinda become a legend in my local writing groups as a way to express when things aren’t going the way you thought they would in your story. “Dammit, Clyde” is frequently heard at writing gatherings.

In book 2, my main group of characters travels to Aghlabid, a far away country, and they’re accompanied by a couple nameless huskarler (bodyguards). Or at least, they were supposed to be nameless. Our conversation went a bit like this:

Character A: We want names.

Me: No.

Character B: I’ll be Gunnar.

Me: No.

Character A: And I’m Clyde.

Me: WTF. Clyde? Clyde is not a Viking name. At least Gunnar is a traditional Icelandic/Viking name.

Clyde: Also, we’re going to be integral to the plot.

Me: No.

Clyde: F your outline.

Me: Dammit, Clyde!

And Clyde’s been uncooperative ever since. I’ve had to redo my series outline at least three times now because of him, although again, each time the story’s become stronger and better for it.

But please, don’t tell Clyde that.

Heartsbane slideI’d originally planned to have the first book to my publisher earlier this spring, but due to changes to the series I’ve had to do some retconning (dammit, Clyde) and am now waiting until most of it is done before we release all the books a month or two apart, hopefully starting this spring. If you want to read sneak peaks, please head over to Patreon, where the first short story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” is posted as well as the first chapters of the books.

New releases!!

Futility CoverAfter – well, let’s just say a while – I have a couple new releases!

Kind of.

The first is an audiobook of The Futility of Loving a Soldier, narrated by Maria Kelly. She has a beautiful Irish lilt that makes the eleven short stories a joy to listen to.

Get your copy at Amazon/Audible or iTunes.

The second release is a paperback of “A Place to Die.” I wanted to have print copies on hand for an upcoming book fair event thing but didn’t get them ordered in time. However, you can still get your copy at Amazon. And don’t forget, you can read the story for free if you sign up to my mailing list.

If you’re wanting actual new stories, I’ve been posting pretty regularly over on Medium. I’m also nearly done with the first draft of the first book in a new series, which is retellings of fairy tales but with Vikings and no magic. My writing group is loving the first book – the MC was described as “wonderfully prickly” – and they’ve been pushing me to finish. I’m hoping to have the first one out by Christmas, with more to follow over the next year.

I also started a Patreon account. One of the tiers includes access to a new story every month. Please consider supporting me – just $1 will give me that extra push to actually write each month!

Thanks for your support!

Media Monday: Australian thrillers #AtoZChallenge

A to Z Challenge 2018 AThe books: Broometime Seranade by Barry Metcalfe and Crossings by Ashley Capes

The music: “Straight Lines” by Silverchair

It’s a well-known fact that everything in Australia is trying to kill you, so why would books set there be any different?

In Crossings, wildlife ranger Lisa is puzzled when kangaroo entrails show up outside her house. She thinks it’s her abusive ex, until a bunch of people start dying. She’s busy trying to find the culprit, but she’s having a hard time focusing because her dad has dementia and needs her full attention. And then wildfires come through, along with a giant ghost kangaroo because it’s Australia and did I mention, everything – from the people to your own mind, from the weather and landscaping to giant ghost kangaroos – is trying to kill you! This book is a great mix of suspense and paranormal, with a relatable main character, a fast-moving plot, and wonderful imagery that pulls you right in.

The second book, Broometime Seranade, also features death because that’s what happens in Australia. Special Australian-equivalent-of-the-FBI/CIA agents Martin and Claire are sent to a coastal town to investigate a bunch of bodies that have been discovered in the area. As they investigate further, trying not to blow their cover and enjoying the beautiful beach, they soon discover that there are darker forces at work than just the average murderer – a foe more powerful than they can imagine, who’s laid a trap they’ve walked right into. Also, there are spiders in this book. Lots and lots of spiders that are okay with killing. Because of course.

The music I’ve picked is in keeping with the theme coming from Australia. ACDC is probably the best Australian band ever, but who can forget Silverchair? Everyone, probably, because did you know that the singer married Natalie Imbruglia, the band members are almost 40, and they released a new album in 2007? Me neither. This song is off that album. As you can see, they’ve changed a bit in the last 20 years. But in true Aussie fashion, this video seems to be the band members running from something probably trying to kill them.

Every day this month, I’m participating in the 2018 A to Z Blogging Challenge. Please take a moment to check out some of the other blogs that are participating.

Iowa City Book Fair on Saturday, Oct 3rd

One of my goals for this year is to improve my marketing. In addition to running various ads, I’m also trying to fit in more appearances – book signings, author fairs, etc.

This Saturday, I’ll be at the Iowa City Book Fair, part of their annual book festival, running the table for my publisher, Evolved Publishing.

Stop by the downtown pedestrian mall from 10-5 to say hi, pick up a copy of The Lone Wolf and works by other EP authors, and get lots of free swag.

Weekend Writing Warriors 3/1/15 #8sunday

lwcover300x446New month, new story. Because I just finished outlining its sequel (although I don’t have any free time to write it!), I’m pulling from my novel, The Lone Wolf, published by Evolved Publishing in December 2013.

After her husband’s infidelities are revealed, Kasey Sanford just wants to rediscover who she is. After an abusive childhood and years as a career soldier, Andrew Adams just wants someone to tell him that he’s doing the right thing with his life. When their paths cross, Kasey and Andrew embark on a tumultuous journey that demonstrates just what they’re willing to do to save the ones they love.

In this snippet, Andrew is enjoying some downtime during a tour in Iraq. While checking in on his unit he notices a bunch of guys gathered around a clothes-covered cot.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I walked over to the cot, looked down, and saw that what I’d mistaken for clothes was a sleeping soldier—Butch, a short skinny guy who was anything but. “Is that…Where the hell did you find yourself Saran wrap in the middle of a desert?”

“My girl sent it to me,” Reyes giggled. “Isn’t this awesome?”

They’d securely attached Butch to his cot with plastic wrap, and judging by its opaqueness, there had to be at least a dozen layers.

“Watch this,” Reyes said as he grabbed a bottle of water and poured it over Butch’s face.

Butch jerked his body up but the plastic held, and I had to admit, they’d done a great job. Butch’s sputters quickly changed to a profanity-laced tirade against his fellow soldiers, their mothers, and the US military in general.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

You can get a copy of The Lone Wolf at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or the audiobook at Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.

Anyone? by Angela Scott

anyone coverMonday was a big launch day at Evolved Publishing. In addition to my own The Futility of Loving a Soldier short story collection, fellow author Angela Scott released Anyone?, a YA post-apocalyptic novel.

The end of the world? That’s the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters and deep philosophical exercises in school. No need to sweat it. So when sixteen-year-old Tess’s doomsday-dad builds a bomb shelter in their suburban backyard, everyone thinks he’s gone crazy….

…Until fire rains down from the sky, sinking whole cities into colossal craters and setting much of the world ablaze.

Tess’s dad gives her a few short minutes to gather her emergency bag and her freaked-out kitten, then leads her outside and into the underground shelter. Terrified, the last thing she expects is for him to leave her there all alone, but he has no choice—he must find her missing brother.

Before leaving, he makes Tess promise to keep the hatch door shut, not to open it for anyone but him, and to stay put until he returns.

But he forgot to tell her one thing: What is she supposed to do if he never comes back?

Anyone? is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.
Plus, Angela is giving away prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Weekend Writing Warriors 11/30/14 #8sunday

coverI have a new book of short stories, The Futility of Loving a Soldier, available now from Evolved Publishing!

The Futility of Loving a Soldier is a collection of eleven short stories about the effects of combat on relationships with military friends and family. Moving between why we love our troops to why we hate them, The Futility of Loving a Soldier demonstrates that we wouldn’t want lives without them.

Today’s excerpt is from “A Wedding,” which is my favorite story in the collection. Eli and Abby were best friends growing up and haven’t really talked in nearly ten years – Abby went to college and Eli enlisted. Now they’re both back in their small hometown where everyone feels like commenting on their lives.

“So, Abby, did you hear that the Hicks boy is getting married this month?” she asked as she placed a couple frozen pizzas on the belt.

I nodded and reached for the bar to separate our orders.

“Jamie Linn is just a doll, ain’t she? They’re so happy together,” the gray-haired woman said, straining to lift a two-liter Diet Coke from her cart, “ and Eli deserves some happiness after all he’s been through, bless him.”

I bit my lip and swallowed the lump in my throat.

“You and him was so close growing up,  we expected y’all to get married someday.”

The lump grew with each of the woman’s words.

“But that was before he came back ” – her voice dropped to a false whisper – “like that.”

Read more about Abby and Eli, and the other soldiers in this collection, by getting your copy at Amazon for just $2.99. Then post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

And while you’re at Amazon, get a free copy of my latest short story, “Not My Thing.”

Weekend Writing Warriors 11/23/14 #8sunday

coverI have a new book of short stories, The Futility of Loving a Soldier, coming out December 1st from Evolved Publishing.

The Futility of Loving a Soldier is a collection of eleven short stories about the effects of combat on relationships with military friends and family. Moving between why we love our troops to why we hate them, The Futility of Loving a Soldier demonstrates that we wouldn’t want lives without them.

Today’s excerpt is from “A Wedding,” which is my favorite story in the collection. Eli and Abby were best friends growing up and haven’t really talked in nearly ten years – Abby went to college and Eli enlisted. He was wounded, and she visited him in the hospital.

I stepped into the room where he lay unconscious, passed out from pain and medication. He looked so pathetic lying there, with bigger muscles than the last time I’d seen him but paler, deathly pale with huge black circles under his eyes, cuts all over his exposed face and neck, and a bandage where his left arm should’ve been.


I edged over to his bed and picked up his right hand—his only hand now—careful not to disturb any of the wires and tubes sticking out of him, then stared at his fingers and palm, tracing the callouses on his fingertips before gently setting it back down and leaving the room.


I didn’t go back.


Fortunately Jamie Linn was there to help him rebound and rebuild once he was back home. She’d had a crush on him for as long as anyone could remember, and she was a nurse now, or home care aide or traveling physical therapist, something that got her into his house each day and got him back to healthy. And once he was better, up and around and selling used cars with his dad, she’d stuck around. It was the perfect romance story come to life, except my mom said Eli had bad spells where he’d just lock himself in his room and stare at the walls, and Jamie Linn got all weepy whenever a show like The Bachelor or 19 Kids and Counting came on and reminded her that she was twenty-seven, childless, and engaged to a moody one-handed used-car salesman.

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

And make sure to get a copy of my latest short story, “Not My Thing,” free at Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.


The Musings of E.D. Martin © 2011-2020 Privacy Policy Frontier Theme